A Taste of Havana
For those with the opportunity to travel to Cuba there is simply one word for the experience, enchanting. Not by accident did Christopher Columbus exclaim "The most beautiful land that the human eye has ever seen!" when he landed here. And then there is Ernest Hemingway, he was so fascinated by the island that he moved and lived here for twenty years of his life.
Embark on an enlightening walking tour through the historic center of Havana and through the main squares, home to the largest collections of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the Americas. Even though the buildings of yesteryear may be crumbling you will see the ongoing renovations that are bringing them back to life.
Begin your tasting tour at Cafe Mercurio or Cafe Oriente with a typical Cuban cocktail and a Cuban coffee. Be provided with a demonstration from the staff on the preparation of the cocktail and take home a souvenir recipe. Make your way next to the Rum Museum for a tour and learn the history of the Cuban liquor industry. From freshly cut stalks of sugar cane to a reconstitution of a distillery and aging cellars, the museum offers a real-time experience of the rum-making process, as well as a taste of true Cuban culture. The visit continues down a spiral staircase into the museum's tasting room, with its immense wooden bar reminiscent of the drinking establishments that made Havana famous in the 1930s. Have a taste of these world-famous rums and discover for yourself what makes this drink so special.
Continue your journey of discoveries to the La Mina restaurant where you will taste typical Cuban beer and have snacks. The building that houses La Mina and which was the residence of the bishops of the nearby principal Parrish Church back in the 16th and 17th centuries was refurbished in 1985 and became La Mina Restaurant. Located opposite Plaza de Armas, the view of the square is lovely and the various eating areas light, airy and comfortable, a perfect escape form the noonday sun.
From here you will make your way the Tinaja Water House to be refreshed with the fresh water that is stored in traditional jars. The quaint cobbled section of Calle Obispo between Calles Oficios and Mercaderes is lined with the oldest buildings in Havana. The row of 17th-century townhouse mansions includes the tiny La Casa del Agua La Tinaja, which can be easily overlooked given its small size. The shop offers water that is filtered in large earthenware jars called tinajas and originally supplied by the two aqueducts built in Havana. Next door you will stop in for a taste of Natilla Cubana, a Cuban version of pudding. It's not fancy, it's not hard to make, but one bite will leave you with some wonderful memories of your day in Havana.
The past comes to life when you next stop at La Bodeguita del Medio, a storied watering hole with writing on the walls, framed photographs of celebrities and mojitos. Have a taste of this typical island specialty in Havana's most celebrated bar where past visitors have included Salvador Allende, Fidel Castro, Nicolas Guillen, Harry Belafonte and Nat King Cole, all of whom have left their autographs on La Bodeguita's wall - along with thousands of others (save for the big names, the walls are repainted every few months).
You will next stop at the Private Restaurant (Paladar) Chacon 162 for lunch. Taste different typical Cuban dishes, some with gourmet variations and be provided with instructions and explanations from the Chef about Cuban cuisine and its traditions. The resident bartender will also exchange inside information on the most popular and typical cocktails in Cuba.
The last stop will be a short tour of the Restaurant Floridita where we will taste the famous Daiquiri and learn about Ernest Hemingway, his connection with the restaurant and his taste for Cuban food and cocktails. Inside the restaurant is the legendary Havana bar, one of many regularly frequented by papa Hemmingway. The place is classy and smart, presided over by waiters in natty red jackets. Proud of its reputation as the The Cradle of the Daiquiri, there is only one drink to order here as it would be remiss not to.
The final portion of this amazing day will be when you climb inside an American classic car for an approximate 30-minute panoramic tour of the city. Just a few of the historical sights you see will include the Capitol, Paseo del Prado, Revolutionary Museum, Central Park, Train Terminal, Fraternity Park, Fine Arts Museum, Malecon, Avenida del Puerto and others.
You will end your half day exploration next to the cruise port and your ship.
Please Note: Cars may be hard top or convertible.
All guests must complete a mandatory form for the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (OFAC). A valid passport is required for all guests to travel to Cuba. We recommend guests review the passport requirements of travel to Cuba from their home country and that the expiration of your passport be greater than six months from the date of your voyage. A link will be provided to you with the form upon booking your excursion, and full details will be provided with your electronic ticket.
We were meet by Marcia who gave us a wonderful guided tour, first in an old open topped Dodge car and then by walking, sampling the local food and drinks at a coffee house, cafe, restaurant, celebrity bars and finally a visit to the Rum factory.Marcia was friendly and very knowledgable, we would thoroughly recommend this tour.
Reviewer: Jennifer Burns
Marcia was a wonderful guide for a tour through the high points of old Havana while savoring Cuban food and drink like ice cream, coffee, rum drinks, seafood, beer, Malaga fritters... We walked and walked through Havana's beautiful streets, visited Hemingway haunts and the famous plazas. We got a great tour of other areas of the city including the monuments of the Revolution's greats while riding in a cool 50's car. Our guide filled us in on Cuban history, politics and culture in a very interesting way. DON'T PASS UP THIS TOUR!!!!
Reviewer: Cynthia Burns
We loved this day in Havana. Our guide Marcia was fabulous. She took the time to make this excursion fit with our small group. We learned a great deal about the people of Cuba and got a little taste of daily life. This was the best trip.
We met Marcia at the appointed spot, she was very friendly, knowledgble spoke excellent English and took us on a wonderful tour of Havana in an old Dodge car and then by foot to various eating, coffee, Mojito and finally Rum establishments. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and would highly recommend her services.